How your diet affects inflammation in the body

323920_3801The famous saying goes, you are what you eat. In many ways this is absolutely true. One of those ways deals with the level of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause discomfort, pain, and even long-lasting damage.

As such, following a diet that will help limit the amount of inflammation in your body may be beneficial to your long term health.

Inflammation is one of the ways that the body’s immune system handles stress. Without inflammation, your body cannot heal. However, your body may occasionally experience extreme inflammation, as in rheumatoid arthritis, which may damage the body. Inflammation has also been found to play a part in obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

While there is no specific anti-inflammation diet, there are many foods that may help reduce the amount of inflammation in your body. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. This has been proven to reduce certain types of inflammation, which has a direct correlation to reducing the risk of heart and other diseases.

Another good example is the amount of whole grains in your diet. Whole grains have high amounts of fiber, which have been shown to reduce the levels of C-reactive protein. C-reactive proteins are a marker for inflammation in the blood.

Other dietary choices, which may help individuals with arthritis, includes foods rich in antioxidants. These include fruits and vegetables as well as monounsaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil.

You should also limit overall calories to prevent or reduce obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis and diabetes mellitus, which leads to harmful inflammation.

An anti-inflammatory diet is no replacement for proper medical care, but may be beneficial. While it will not remove all aspects of the disease, following an anti-inflammatory diet may increase the quality of life for those suffering from arthritis.

Additional Resources

Learn more about Baylor’s section of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology.

Read the latest about Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology topics from Baylor experts.

-By Joan Appleyard, M.D., assistant professor in Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Medicine-Immunology, Allergy & Rheumatology

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